Are you a sitting duck or is your head in the sand? Get control of your data.

Over three quarters of consumers (76%) feel falling victim to a scam or breach is inevitable, or they’re ignoring the risk altogether and taking no action to prevent it, new research reveals.

London, UK – 17 February 2022: Almost everyone has a digital footprint, yet according to new research from Rightly, independent data champions, 8 in 10 consumers don’t know how big or far reaching that digital footprint is.

In fact, almost 6 in 10 don’t even know what a digital footprint is. Yet, it is this footprint which increases the chances of personal data being spread widely, sold or used by data brokers, in turn leaving consumers infinitely more susceptible to data breaches and being exposed to scams and spear phishing.

Prevention is the best cure

The majority of consumers (89%) have some level of concern about their personal information being viewed without their permission or knowledge, yet a quarter (26%) take the out of sight out of mind approach – if they can’t see who is using their data then they don’t think too much about it. In fact, 37% would just rather not think about it, until it’s too late and they’ve been scammed.

Data brokers scraping people’s online activity and digital footprint to profile them is a standalone business in and of itself, and 58% of consumers do feel taken advantage of, with businesses making money out of their personal data. Whilst the majority have an issue with such practices, a surprising 16% are ok with it so long as they themselves aren’t affected.

For over a third of consumers (36%) there is a sense of security knowing that nothing bad has happened thus far, yet in an age where more than half (55%) don’t trust the current companies they use to protect them against a security breach, the time to take action and control of data is now.

James Walker, CEO at Rightly comments, “It's alarming to find so many consumers have let their digital footprint grow out of control, and even more worrying is the percentage who have simply just accepted they’re a sitting duck and will eventually fall victim to a scam as a result. Data is constantly being gathered without our knowledge and then sold to companies who go on to target us. If consumers truly knew the potential repercussions – everything from being scammed out of thousands of pounds to having their private and personal information shared online - of such a messy digital footprint I’m sure there would be a greater cause for concern. By understanding who has your data and what information they hold, consumers can take back control and prevent their data being exposed rather than scrambling to fix the mess once a breach inevitably happens.”

Take back control

The number of companies holding personal data is different for each individual, but a third of consumers believe up to 59 companies might hold their data and a further 24% think up to 99 companies do. A shocking 11% think that more than 500 companies hold and have access to their personal data.

In fact, three quarters (75%) of consumers don’t think there are enough regulations or procedures in place to protect society from bad actors, with an overwhelming 90% keen to see increased government regulations around data privacy.

Walker concludes, “To avoid harm from the data we share, consumers have to be more vigilant about what they are giving away to avoid future digital harm. It’s never too late to find out who has your data and request its deletion to protect yourself. Opting out of marketing communications or removing your details from as many databases as possible is a quick fix with a big impact.

“Many people think that simply unsubscribing from emails is enough, but that doesn’t delete your data, it’s still held by companies. So if they get hacked, your data can still be stolen. And if stolen, scammers typically have personal data for 224 days before the company even knows it’s been breached! The only effective way to prevent scams is to take back control of your data, which our Rightly Protect service can do by making data deletion requests to a whole range of companies in one go. On a larger scale, there needs to be greater attention from governments to do more to protect our data privacy.”


Research Methodology:

Research was conducted through a consumer survey in January 2022, interviewing 1,500 consumers aged 18-65+ in the UK.